The year 2013 ended without word on whether the Kings arena Grinches got enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in Sacramento. It’s a good bet they did get enough signatures. They had $100,000 to spend courtesy of Chris Hansen, who was seeking revenge because Sacramento kept Hansen and Microsoft billionaire Steve Balmer from moving the Kings basketball team to Seattle.
Oh, and don’t forget the $40,000 contribution from the non-union contractors who are unhappy that the Kings decided to hire union workers to build the downtown arena.
What a bunch of sourpusses. The revenge contributors put the whole anti-arena petition drive in perspective. Make no mistake that the petition group only wants to put the city’s arena subsidy to a vote. The ultimate result of this campaign is to kill the downtown arena. The arena must be built by 2016 or the NBA can move the Kings out of Sacramento.
The petition will help that move happen because it isn’t just an up-or-down vote on Sacramento using some parking revenue to provide a $258 million subsidy for a $450 million arena. The initiative calls for a June vote to decide whether a subsidy for the arena should go to a public vote. If that gets a majority vote, then in November Sacramento voters would be asked to vote yay or nay on the actual subsidy.
All this ballot rigmarole will accomplish is to delay the arena construction and thereby drive up the price of building it.
There is more than the arena at stake. Downtown developers and Kings owners have been buying properties next to the site of the arena and have presented plans to the Sacramento City Planning Commission for a 250-room hotel, 550 units of housing, offices and retail outlets in the Downtown Plaza. That is just the beginning. The potential investment in the arena and nearby developments is easily going to be worth $1 billion.
When Assemblyman Roger Dickinson was on the Sacramento Board of Supervisors he tried to get a regional sales tax to support the Kings. Naturally we opposed such a hare-brained scheme. The city of Sacramento, though, has come up with a more subtle way of extracting money from the greater Kings area of support. The city is adding on a surtax to Kings tickets and raising downtown parking fees.
The petition group is just plain opposed to the arena and probably doesn’t give a fig about the Kings. A selfish minority like this shouldn’t be allowed to endanger Kings basketball for the whole six-county area surrounding Sacramento. We call on the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors and the Placerville City Council to pass resolutions of support for the Kings arena. It’s a no-cost action that will help defeat this anti-arena drive.
We’re all counting on Sacramento to fund and mount an effective campaign against this ballot measure. If anyone can do it, Mayor Kevin Johnson can. Let’s give him some emotional support from the hinterlands.